ACE, AES and AESDirect…Confused Yet?


By: Danielle McClellan

The ACE, AES and AESDirect system is a bit of a convoluted puzzle of applications that are intertwined. If you understood them before, be prepared to change what you thought you knew. In early 2016 changes will be taking place to the systems. Before we look at the changes, let’s look at each one individually.

ACE (Automated Commercial Environment): this is the primary system that the trade community reports import and export shipments. ACE is a single window that will continue to change and adapt so that it can automate more processes and eliminate paper.

AES (Automated Export System): this is the central point where export shipment data is filed and sent to the US Customs and Border Protection. AES collects, processes and stores all Electronic Export Information (EEI). AES creates Internal Transaction Numbers (ITNs) and provides exporter’s with messages such as “Fatal Errors” and “Compliance Alerts.” AES is housed in ACE.

AESDirect is the online system for Electronic Export Information (EEI) maintained by the US Census Bureau. AES filers can register their accounts in AESDirect and file their export shipments to the AES for processing. Basically AESDirect is just another way to file your export shipment data…50% of exports are processed directly thru AES and the other half are processed thru AESDirect.

So, in early 2016, the current AESDirect (also known as Legacy AESDirect) will transition into ACE. This means that AESDirect filers need to sign up for an ACE account if they do not already have one. If you have an ACE Importer account you should contact your Trade Account Owner (TAO) to request the export functionality be added to your account.

Specific Details:

  • The current AESDirect application available at, referred to as Legacy AESDirect, will transition completely into ACE in:
    • early 2016 for web, EDI and AESPcLink filers
    • mid-2016 for Weblink filers (specifications are forthcoming in October)
  • The ACE AESDirect application is referred to as Refactored AESDirect.
  • The online portal filing capability for the Refactored AESDirect will be available in late October 2015.

You must transition to the Refactored AESDirect based on the time frames noted above!!!

AESDirect filers are strongly encouraged to sign up for ACE Exporter accounts if they are completely new to the ACE system (brief how-to video).

Filers who have ACE Importer accounts should contact their Trade Account Owner (TAO) designated by their company and request that export functionality is added to their account (brief how-to video).

ALL legacy AESDirect account holders (regardless of filing method) will need an ACE account to access the Refactored AESDirect application because the legacy application will be retired in 2016!!! Sign up in advance and be prepared!

The videos referenced are accessible on CBP’s website.

For further information or questions, contact the U.S. Census Bureau’s Data Collection Branch.

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